Colorectal Cancer

Colon Cancer Treatment | Rectal Cancer Treatment | Anal Cancer Treatment Columbus OH | Westerville OH | Circleville OH

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is cancer that develops in the large intestine. Cancer occurs when healthy cells become altered, growing and dividing in a way that keeps the body from functioning normally. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, benign clusters of cells, or polyps, on the lining of the colon. Certain types of these polyps, called adenomas, can become malignant. It is safest to have such polyps removed at an early stage when they have not yet become cancerous.

Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

There are several risk factors for colon cancer, some of which are under the patient's control. These risk factors include:

  • Being over 50 years of age
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Eating red or processed meats
  • Obesity
  • Certain hereditary syndromes
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Patient history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Patient history of adenomas
  • Patient history of other cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

While patients with colon cancer are often asymptomatic, as the disease progresses, they may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A change in bowel habits or a change in consistency of the stool
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting

Diagnosis of Colon Cancer

After performing a thorough physical examination and taking a full patient and family history, the doctor may administer other diagnostic tests. These may include:

  • Blood tests, including a CBC, and tests for liver enzymes and tumor markers
  • Colonoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • CT scans

As part of a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, a biopsy may be taken.

Treatment of Colon Cancer

Depending on the stage of progression of the colon cancer, treatment may include one or more of the following:

  • Surgical removal of diseased and immediately adjacent tissue
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted or biological therapy

Prevention of Colon Cancer

There are many steps that may be taken to lower the risk of developing colon cancer. Individuals may decrease their chances of developing this disease by eating a healthy low-fat diet that is high in fiber and antioxidants, drinking alcohol only in moderation, refraining from smoking, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. For individuals at high risk for developing colon cancer, medications and surgery may be recommended. Everyone over 50 years of age, individuals of African-American descent over 45 years of age, and individuals known to be at high risk should undergo regular colonoscopies, both to screen for cancer and to remove suspicious colorectal polyps at the earliest stage possible.


Rectal Cancer

Rectal cancer is cancer that develops in the tissues of the rectum. The rectum is the final six inches of the colon that leads to the anus. Cancer occurs when healthy cells become altered, growing and dividing in a way that keeps the body from functioning normally. Most cases of rectal cancer begin as small, benign clusters of cells, or polyps, on the lining of the rectum. Certain types of these polyps, called adenomas, can become malignant. It is safest to have such polyps removed at an early stage when they have not yet become cancerous.

Risk Factors for Rectal Cancer

There are several risk factors for rectal cancer, some of which are under the patient's control. These risk factors include:

  • Being over 40 years of age
  • Certain hereditary syndromes
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Patient history of polyps
  • Patient history of other cancer

Symptoms of Rectal Cancer

While patients with rectal cancer are often asymptomatic, as the disease progresses, they may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A change in bowel habits or a change in consistency of the stool
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Changes in appetite

Diagnosis of Rectal Cancer

After performing a thorough physical examination and taking a full patient and family history, the doctor may administer other diagnostic tests. These may include:

  • Digital rectal examination
  • Barium enema
  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Colonoscopy
  • Carcinoembryonic antigen assay
  • Biopsy

Treatment of Rectal Cancer

Surgery is the most common form of treatment for cases of rectal cancer at any stage of progression. There are several types of surgery used to excise or destroy the diseased tissue and a surrounding margin. For some patients, other therapies will be performed instead of or in addition to surgery. These may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy or biological therapy.

Prevention of Rectal Cancer

There are many steps that may be taken to lower the risk of developing rectal cancer. Individuals may decrease their chances of developing this disease by eating a healthy low-fat diet that is high in fiber and antioxidants, drinking alcohol only in moderation, refraining from smoking, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. For individuals at high risk for developing rectal cancer, medications and surgery may be recommended. Everyone over 50 years of age, individuals of African-American descent over 45 years of age, and individuals known to be at high risk, should undergo regular colonoscopies, both to screen for cancer and to remove suspicious rectal polyps at the earliest stage possible.


Anal Cancer

Anal cancer is a rare cancer that originates in the anus, which is the opening at the end of the rectum. When diagnosed early, it is highly treatable.

Causes of Anal Cancer

The exact cause of anal cancer is unknown, though it is often linked to the following:

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Anal sex
  • History of cervical or vaginal cancer

Symptoms of Anal Cancer

Symptoms of anal cancer may include:

  • Anal irritation or itchiness
  • Discomfort in the anal region
  • Bleeding from the anus

Diagnosis of Anal Cancer

In order to diagnose anal cancer, a doctor inspects a patient’s anal canal and rectum with a short tube, called an anoscope, to find anything unusual. Another test that may be performed involves inserting a probe that emits sound waves to create a picture into the anal cavity, which is evaluated for abnormalities. If abnormalities are found, samples of tissue will be taken and analyzed to determine if cancer is present.

Stages of Anal Cancer

Anal cancer occurs in four stages:

  • Stage I When cancer is roughly the size of a peanut.
  • Stage II Cancer is larger, but has not spread beyond the anal canal.
  • Stage III Cancer that has spread to the bladder and vagina.
  • Stage IV Anal cancer that has spread beyond the lymph nodes, bladder, or vagina.

Anal Cancer Treatments

Treatments for anal cancer include chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy sessions are typically performed four weeks apart, while radiation therapy takes place over the course of five or six weeks.

Prevention of Anal Cancer

Preventative measures include practicing safe sex, since sexually transmitted diseases such as HPV and HIV, increase the risk of developing anal cancer. Being vaccinated against HPV is also recommended for the prevention of anal cancer.

Meet Our Physicians

All of our physicians are board certified members of the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons.